African herbal medicine traditions remained an important part of health care practices in the slave communities. Even after the war, when the Freedman's Bureau and northern educators tried to teach former slaves the advantages of European health and medical practices, African folk medicine continued its influence through the work of Granny midwives. At the Penn School, in the early 20th century, Granny midwives, photographed here in 1910, were taught modern hygiene in special classes; with very few African-American doctors available in the Lowcountry, their skills were an important community resource.
From the Penn School Collection. Permission granted by Penn Center, Inc., St. Helena Island, SC.